Thousands of people took to the streets in Croatia for abortion rights. “We will force the health system to respect women,” prominent women’s rights activist Sanja Sarnavka told protesters gathered in the capital Zagreb on Thursday. The protest was sparked by the case of a 39-year-old woman who was initially denied an abortion despite the serious illness of her fetus.
Mirela Cavajda, already a mother of one, was six months pregnant when doctors diagnosed her fetus with a brain tumor in April. Doctors told her the child would either die or have serious health problems, Cavajda told local media. However, they refused the abortion and instead recommended that she go to neighboring Slovenia.
They rejected a total of four hospitals in Zagreb. The case caused outrage across the country. A medical commission finally concluded on Wednesday that an abortion in Cavajda’s case was both medically and legally justified and approved it.
The demonstration in Zagreb took place under the motto “Enough”. Slogans such as “Enough with refusing medical treatment” or “Enough with endangering women’s health” were on protest posters.
Abortions are generally possible in Croatia up to the tenth week. Even later, an abortion can still be carried out in exceptional cases: in the case of rape, incest or serious danger to the health of the mother or the child. However, activists fear a creeping restriction of the right to abortion.